Tuesday, July 23, 2013

NASA's Earth Observing System in 41 Years

Useful Pursuit of Shadows
Fourty one years ago on July 23, 1972, Landsat 1, the first satellite of the NASA's Earth Observing program, was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Modified from the Nimbus 4 meteorological satellite, the near-polar orbiting satellite had been used as a stabilized, Earth-oriented platform for obtaining ground information for agricultural and forestry resources inventory, geologic survey and cartography, mineral resources exploration, hydrology and water resources studies, and environmental monitoring.

NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) has since grown into a coordinated series of polar-orbiting and low inclination satellites for long-term global observations of the land surface, biosphere, solid Earth, atmosphere, and oceans. Its current fleet includes Landsat 7, Landsat 8 and CloutSat.
Image by Jenny Mottar, NASA Headquarters
The postcard shows a painting, titled "Useful Pursuit of Shadows" by Graeme Stephens in 2003, that illustrates the CloudSat taking 3D radar images of clouds from Earth orbit. CloudSat was launched in April 2006 to measure how much liquid water and ice are in the clouds, at what altitudes, and how the clouds to reflect and absorb the Sun's energy.

CloudSat is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA 91109. However, a Google search would turn up its address as: La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011. A blog of LA Times explained why.

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